By Rick Lowe | 2/5/14 6:50pm

Psych majors are going to laugh at me for this. All of them, all at once. With disdain.

My sophomore year, I took some Psych courses for fun. Elective credits were needed, and as someone who not only writes, but places high value on human characters with realistic personalities, I figured studying thoughts and behaviors would help me create better characters. It was a wise decision on my part that I don’t regret at all.

Of course, it also made me rather cynical when it comes to “mental disorders,” because there just seem to be far too many opportunities to get diagnosed with something you might not actually have, meaning you get a catch-all excuse for socially disagreeable behavior and your doctor gets an unwarranted paycheck. Anyway, those classes showed me something I have suffered from for years.

It’s called “Pseudostupidity.” For those not in the know, the prefix “pseudo-” means “fake.” Maybe by this point, they’ve already done more research and made that moniker obsolete. I’m Googling around and no, it’s still being used, but some of the terminology and definitions seem to have been fine tuned or altered. So what is it?

Basically, it was used to describe… not adolescents themselves, but adolescent behaviors. Because of the hormones flooding through kids going through puberty and the critical development of their brains during this time, teens have a habit of making mountains out of molehills. Their minor problems become major, world shaking issues due to being “falsely stupid.” Pseudostupidity gives kids an unhealthy amount of egocentrism, where they honestly believe that everyone around them is focused on everything they say and do—their triumphs, their humiliations, all of it.

It’s the feeling I still get to this day where I stumble on the sidewalk and get a rush of adrenaline because “oh geez everyone saw that, I look like a huge klutz now” even though not a single person is paying attention to me. This becomes overwhelming in the gym, where I not only compare myself to the woman running a marathon on the treadmill next to me, but actively think she’s judging my performance and regarding me as an inferior.

I made the distinction up there between adolescents and their behavior because dealing with pseudostupidity doesn’t mean you’re an adolescent, it just means you’re engaging in thought patterns and behaviors that you should have left behind already. Maybe we all get this from time to time. You know, do we ever truly grow up? Do we have to? Are we there yet? Inner child?

Actually, I read that pseudostupidity can also describe just straight-up “playing stupid,” where smart people don’t want to seem like nerds or make their peers feel inferior so they pretend to be less intelligent than they really are. In a way, it’s kind of considerate, but to a fault. Caring for others is one thing, but at your own expense? Don’t short yourself, smart people.

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